Posts Tagged ‘Americans With Disabilities Act’

EEOC Alleges Food Store Didn’t Accommodate Employee Recovering From Surgery on Wrist

A food store in the western U.S. has an Americans With Disabilities Act problem.

Jackson Energy, a division of Jacksons Food Stores, violated federal law by refusing to accommodate a worker recovering from wrist surgery and terminating her because of her disability, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit filed on Sept. 29.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, while working as a dispatcher for Jackson Energy in Meridian, Idaho, Penny Wightman suffered an injury to her wrist that required surgery and was not expected to be fully released to work for at least four to six months. At her employer’s request, she returned to work on modified light duty one week after her surgery, and trained a colleague on her regular duties. However, a few weeks after she did so, the company forced Wightman to go on unpaid medical leave until she could return to work without any restrictions. The EEOC alleges that Jacksons ignored Wightman’s requests for an accommodation, such as speech recognition software, that potentially would have allowed her to continue to perform her dispatcher duties, and instead they fired her when she exhausted her leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) before making a full recovery.

Terminating a qualified employee because of a disability violates the Americans with Disa­bilities Act (ADA). The law also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship for the employer. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho (U.S. EEOC v. Jacksons Food Stores, Inc., d/b/a Jackson Energy, Case No. 1:17-CV-00407-REB) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary damages on behalf of Wightman and injunctive relief, which typically includes training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of notices at the worksite, and compliance reporting.

This is the agency’s second disability discrimination lawsuit against this employer. Just last month, the EEOC alleged that the company refused to interview a qualified applicant because he was deaf, in a suit filed in the Western District of Washington (EEOC v. Jacksons Food Stores, Inc., 2:17-CV-01285-TSZ).

“Jacksons acknowledged that Ms. Wightman was an excellent employee. But when she became injured, the company refused to even consider potential reasonable accommodations that might have allowed her to fully perform her duties, even with her restrictions,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney May Che. “Instead, Jacksons had her train her replacement, forced her to take medical leave, then discarded her after that expired.”

EEOC Seattle Field Director Nancy Sienko said, “The EEOC has made a national priority of identifying inflexible leave policies that discriminate against individuals with disabilities.” She added, “To insist that workers are 100% healed before they can return to work defeats the whole purpose of the ADA, which is to ensure that when qualified employees with disabilities are ready and willing to work, they have that opportunity to earn a living instead of being sidelined by discrimination.”

Meridian, Idaho-based Jackson Energy is a wholesale and transportation company delivering fuel to over 800 branded retail locations in 9 western states, and is a division of Jacksons Food Stores, Inc. According to its website, http://www.jacksons.com/, Jacksons Foods is national chain of over 230 Chevron-, Shell-, and Texaco-branded convenience stores and one of the largest privately held corporations in Idaho with operations in six Western states and over 3,000 employees.

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EEOC: Gay Salesperson With Crohn’s Disease Victim of Hostile Work Environment at Dealership

The combination of a salesperson’s sexual orientation and disability evidently set off the owner of the car dealership where he worked, contributing to a hostile work environment.

Chicago car dealership Evergreen Kia violated civil rights law by subjecting an employee to harassment because of his sexual orientation and disability, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on October 2.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC alleges that the owner of Evergreen Kia harassed a car salesperson for suffering from Crohn’s disease and for being gay. The agency said the owner often used homophobic slurs when talking to and about the salesperson, made offensive jokes about gays, and made offensive comments about his disability.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disability Act of 1991 (ADA). Title VII prohibits discrimination because of sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy), and the ADA prohibits disability discrimination. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case, EEOC v Evergreen Motors, dba Evergreen Kia, Civil Action No. 17-cv-07084, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and was assigned to U.S. District Judge Blakey. The EEOC’s lawsuit seeks both monetary and injunctive relief. The government’s litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorneys Miles Shultz and Laurie Elkin and EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane Smason.

According to Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s district director in Chicago, the EEOC’s pre-suit administrative investigation revealed that Evergreen Kia subjected the employee to sex and disability harassment. She said among other examples of verbal and physical conduct, the owner often said the salesperson’s sexual orientation caused his Crohn’s disease.

“This employer’s conduct violated two major federal disability laws,” said Bowman. “No employee should be forced to work in conditions experienced by this salesperson.”

Gregory Gochanour, EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago, added, “Employers must be mindful that sex harassment includes harassment because of an employee’s sexual orientation. The harassment he faced – and by the company’s owner, no less – is unacceptable and unlawful. The EEOC will vigorously enforce federal anti-discrimination law to ensure that employees are not faced with harassment because of their orientation or their disability, and that their employers are held accountable.”

Realtor in Trouble With EEOC Over Rescission of Job Offer to Applicant Who Disclosed Diagnosis

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is going to court on behalf of a job applicant whose job offer was rescinded allegedly because of his disability.

The Atlanta office of a commercial real estate and investment management company headquartered in Chicago violated federal law by discriminating against a job applicant because of her disability, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc. (JLL), violated federal law when it rescinded a job offer to a development and asset strategy production support analyst position in April 2016 after the applicant disclosed her diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and requested to work remotely once per week to attend medical appointments related to her disability. Prior to learning of her disability, JLL informed the applicant numerous times during its interview process that it offered flexible work arrangements and schedules. However, once it learned that the applicant suffered from PTSD and sought to work remotely one day per week as an accommodation for her disability, JLL quickly rescinded its job offer, the EEOC said. The applicant withdrew her accommodation request after being notified that the offer had been rescinded, but JLL refused to reconsider its decision.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:17-CV-4017-ELR-JSA) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settle­ment through its conciliation process. The federal agency seeks back pay, and compensatory and punitive damages for the applicant, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.

“An employer cannot refuse to hire an employee because that person has a disability or because she sought a reasonable accommodation,” said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “The employee here disclosed her disability, but instead of accommodating her, the employer rescinded its job offer. This is unlawful, and the EEOC is here to stand up for the victims of such prac­tices.”

Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the Atlanta District Office, added, “The disclosure of a disability by an employee or applicant requires a certain level of trust that the employer will not use it against her. Unfortunately, that is precisely what happened in this case. This is why the law protects people with disabilities who exercise their legal rights.”

Auto Store Fingered by EEOC for ADA Violations

The avalanche of lawsuits by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under the Americans With Disabilities Act continues.

Crain Automotive Holdings, Inc., located in Sherwood, Ark., violated federal law when it refused to accommodate an employee and fired her because of her disability, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit filed on Sept. 28.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employee suffers from anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. She attempted to communicate her medical conditions to her supervisors; however, Crain refused to discuss accommodation options with the employee and instead terminated her within days of learning of her disabilities, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Western Division, Civil Action No. 4:17-cv-627-JLH, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit seeks monetary relief in the form of back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, compensation for lost benefits, and an injunction against future discrimination.

“The ADA protects people with disabilities so that they have an equal opportunity to achieve success in the workplace,” said Katharine W. Kores, district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. “People with disabilities face enough obstacles in their everyday lives. The ability to work free of discrimination should not be one of those obstacles. This issue remains a priority for the EEOC.”

Crain Automotive, headquartered in Sherwood, Ark., is comprised of 16 automotive dealerships whose primary business is selling and trading new and used vehicles, selling retail and wholesale parts, and repairing vehicles.

EEOC Targets Company With Inflexible Leave Requirement, 100% Healed Rule for Work Return

Another employer has incurred the displeasure of the federal government for an inflexible leave rule.

Prestige Care, Inc., Prestige Senior Living, LLC and their affiliates violated federal law when they refused to provide accommodations for employees with disabilities, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on Sept. 29. The EEOC further alleges that the named companies engaged in the practice of denying light duty and leave as an accommodation to employees with disabilities.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the Vancouver, Wash.-based companies and their affiliated skilled nursing and/or assisted living facilities had a written policy that required employees be 100% healed while at work. Moreover, the companies would not allow employees to return to work after a medical leave unless they did so without medical restrictions. The EEOC further charges that Prestige and its affiliates discharged employees for exceeding the companies’ restrictive leave policy. By doing so, the EEOC alleges that the companies’ long-term practices violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Prestige Care, Inc, et al., Case No. 1:17-cv-01299-AWI-SAB) under the ADA after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The EEOC’s suit seeks back pay, benefits and compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent any future discrimination in the workplace.

“We continue to see too many cases where employers implement inflexible policies and procedures that undermine the ADA,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes the Central Valley in its jurisdiction.

Melissa Barrios, director of the EEOC’s Fresno Local Office, added, “Health care is an industry in which one might expect to see little disability discrimination – but, sadly, the EEOC sees too much of it there. A rigid policy of denying leave or light duty to employees with disabilities without a meaningful interactive process frequently leads to violations of the law.”

According to the company’s website, www.prestigecare.com , Prestige Care provides independent living communities, assisted living, memory care, home health and rehabilitation and post-acute care to senior citizens. Prestige and its affiliates provide services throughout the western United States including Washington, Oregon and California.

Eliminating qualification standards and inflexible leave policies that discriminate against individuals with disabilities is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

Pregnant Employee Was Denied Accommodation for Disability, EEOC Alleges in Latest ADA Suit

This is the season for ADA violations, or alleged ones, if the recent deluge of disability discrimination lawsuits filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is any indication.

Halo Unlimited, Inc., dba Infant Hearing Screening Specialists, a Corona, Calif.-based company, violated federal law when it denied an accommodation to a pregnant employee with a disability, the EEOC announced in a lawsuit filed last Friday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, an infant screening technician assigned to a hospital in El Centro, Calif., was denied an accommodation for her disability by Halo Unlimited. Instead, the EEOC contends that the company fired the pregnant employee within days of learning of her disability.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (EEOC v. Halo Unlimited, Inc. dba Infant Hearing Screening Specialists, Case No. 3:17-cv-02006-H-WVG) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC’s suit seeks back pay and compensa­tory damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent further discrimination in the workplace.

“The EEOC continues to see too many companies failing to accommodate workers with disabilities,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes Imperial County in its jurisdiction. “We encourage employers to review their policies and procedures to make sure they are in compliance with the ADA.”

Christopher Green, director of the EEOC’s San Diego Local Office added, “This case should serve as a reminder to employers of their responsibilities to accommodate employees under federal law.”

According to the company’s website, www.ihssca.net, Halo Unlimited, Inc. dba Infant Hearing Screening Specialists, provides newborn hearing screening specialists in accordance with State of California standards to over 95 medical facilities.

EEOC: Rehab Center’s Rigidity on Maximum Leave Violated ADA Rights of Arthritis Sufferer

Another disability discrimination case, this one involving an employer’s too-rigid adherence to a maximum leave policy.

A certified nursing assistant with rheumatoid arthritis was denied a reasonable accommodation and then unlawfully fired by a residential rehabilitation facility because of her disability, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed Friday.

According to EEOC’s suit, Matthews, N.C.-based Senior Care Properties Inc., d/b/a Harborview Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Morehead City, hired Katrina Friend in 2015. Friend has rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that she managed with prescription medication. Without medication, Friend has difficulty picking up or gripping objects. In July 2015, Friend was unable to fill her prescriptions as she had not yet received her insurance card from Harborview, and she experienced an arthritis flare-up. By August 2015, Friend resumed her medication regimen and requested four weeks of light duty to allow the medication to take effect. In response, Harborview placed Friend on unpaid leave, never considered Friend’s light duty request, and offered her no other accommodation. Although the company had been informed that Friend could return to full duty at the end of the four weeks for which she requested light duty, Harborview fired Friend for exceeding the company’s maximum two-week leave policy.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of North Carolina, Eastern Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Senior Care Properties Inc. d/b/a Harborview Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center; Civil Action No. 4:17-cv-00136-FL) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay for Friend along with compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

“Employees with disabilities may require light duty assignments or leave from work to manage disability-related medication or other treatment so they can continue to work,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Employers must consider exceptions to light duty and leave policies when necessary to comply with the ADA’s mandate to reasonably accommodate workers with disabilities.”

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is